Blog or Not?

A statistically improbable polymath's views on politics and culture.

Monday, June 28, 2004
Temperature Rising
My parents, the physics correspondant, and I all went to see "Fahrenheit 9/11" yesterday. Now, very few people would expect Knoxville, TN to be a hotbed of Democratic activity--but the theater was packed, even with two screens playing the movie. The line to buy tickets stretched as far as I've ever seen a movie line in Knoxville. And that's on Sunday. On Friday the theater had sold out of tickets for the 7:50 showing by 4 pm and tickets for the 10:30 showing sold out soon after.

Remember, I'm talking about Knoxville here--the Republican base of Tennessee, a state which voted for some crazy Texan over a Democratic favorite son. I believe the Weinstein brothers must be having some choice words with the Disney brass right about now.

The movie itself? It started with that one night in November--it seems so long ago now, doesn't it--when we thought that Al Gore was going to be our next president. But we hadn't counted on just how nakedly and ruthlessly the Bush family would grab for money and power. Nor that the entire United States Senate was filled with wimps who wouldn't protest the Florida election results. I mean, I can understand John Edwards not protesting; he's from North Carolina. But what about Barbara Boxer or Dianne Feinstein? What about an outgoing Democratic senator making one last stand? [Insert Goreian sigh here]

Hmmm. Maybe I should transfer my voter registration back to Tennessee. Maybe I should even show up in person, so that they actually count my vote.

At any rate, the movie was a brilliant piece of propaganda--brilliant in that it combined damning facts with emotional pulls. It better be nominated for Best Picture.

Thursday, June 24, 2004
Bush Finally Uses the C-Word

Is this a ploy to get support from the center? Probably. Does it reflect that the "Christian" Coalition is losing the culture war one battle at a time? Almost certainly. Is this good news for the war on AIDS? Absolutely.

By the way, the Knoxville, TN Kerry Meetups are at 7:00 pm tonight, at the Books-A-Million near Cedar Bluff (8513 Kingston Pike) and the Panera near McKay's (4855 Kingston Pike). I'm not sure if I'll make it to either one of them, but I'll try.

Thursday, June 17, 2004
I'm Maureen Craig and I Did Not Approve That Message
During the school year, I was (mostly) blessedly free from political commercials--and thus did not see the "Pessimism" spot from the Bush campaign until last Sunday. I've seen it three times, and I'm already sick of it. Especially the "1.4 million jobs added since August" voiceover over a Spike Jonze wannabe video of a guy working at Foot Locker. What the ad doesn't tell you is that the guy working at Foot Locker is either a laid-off union industrial employee whose job was outsourced to Thailand or a laid-off tech industry employee whose job was outsourced to Malaysia. Yeah, I'm sure he feels really good about working at Foot Locker. I mean, the employee discount's sweet.

Then there's the final line of the ad: "One thing's for sure: Pessimism never created a job." It sure as hell created a job for Tom Ridge and everyone at Homeland Security. Pessimism is directly responsible for the pharmaceutical industry, the nation's law enforcement agencies, fire departments, EMTs, ambulance service firms, hospitals and independant medical/healing practitioners, divorce lawyers, insurance companies, bike helmet manufacturers, sprinkler system firms, the EPA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the United States Armed Forces, the Armed Forces Reserves, social workers, and psychotherapists. I'd have to say that pessimism and worry is one of the greatest supports to the American economy.

I didn't intend for the break from blogging to continue for this long.

I shall pin the blame directly on finals.

Friday, June 04, 2004
See, we're not racist! Or mean!*
My favorite retailer, Wal-Mart, is responding to criticisms and lawsuits by reforming, and also by having Halle Berry stop by the shareholders' meeting.

You think it'll sway the juries in all of those lawsuits brought against them?

*Because Pandagon is apparently under the weather, I feel that there's a deficit of snark in the blogosphere. Hopefully this will be rectified soon.

Thursday, June 03, 2004
Time for the quarterly blogosphere gender brouhaha
--Matt Yglesias believes that on average, women are less interested (and therefore less informed) in politics than men; commentors ask about Yglesias's definition of the word "politics", the sources of his data, and the effect this will all have on his sex life. Respectful of Otters gets bonus points for using the expression "bless his heart". I wonder if Yglesias will also be called out by his boss, one Ms. Garance Franke-Ruta.

--Daniel Drezner finds out which blogs media types reads, and thanks Amanda Butler for her help in compiling the data. Trish Wilson, guest-blogging at Feministe*, immediately accuses Drezner of sexism because the only woman he mentioned was presumably in a secretarial position. Unfortunately for Wilson, it turned out that some of the blogs Drezner mentioned did have women bloggers. Additionally, Drezner had very good reason to have Butler be in a data-analyzing position: she's his undergraduate research** assistant. While I don't recall the TA position being common knowledge to either of their greater readerships, it was extraordinarily clear that Drezner and Butler were both based out of the University of Chicago; Wilson should have made the connection. Other feminist bloggers, such as Roxanne and Mac Diva, have taken on a more temperate tone during this debate.
Okay, I admit it. I felt that Wilson's tone was uncalled for in her reaction to Drezner. I could have seen it in a reaction to Yglesias, but to automatically scream "sexism" whenever a man thanks a woman for "typically female" work is fulfilling negative stereotypes about feminists and feminism, and it's made me disinclined to read Wilson's blog. Okay, maybe it's the fact that she unfairly maligned people affiliated with my university. But still. She really should have updated that bit in her post and put in a mea culpa.

*I greatly enjoy Ms. Lauren's posting and hope that she will return from her sabbatical soon. She is a shining example of third-wave feminism.
**Changed from "teaching assistant".

Tuesday, June 01, 2004
It's really kind of sad (in a not really sad, just incredibly geeky way)...
that I'm getting excited about getting documents detailing German welfare law. "AND it has numbers! And the guy's at a German university! Awesome!"